Sunbeam Rapier Reviews

1970 Sunbeam Rapier V8 Ford 289 swap 289 V8 from Australia and New Zealand

Model year1970
Year of manufacture1970
First year of ownership2010
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 289 V8 Automatic
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.5 / 10
Distance when acquired98000 miles
Most recent distance102000 miles
Previous carToyota Cresta


Great looking fun car to drive


Broken exhaust mount, easily fixed.

General Comments:

A nice little "hot rod" with 289 V8, C4 auto and 9" differential. My wife drives it mainly, and the only real niggles are its heavy steering and awkward window winders that can stick. The steering is heavy due mostly to the V8 engine, which was not standard to the car.

Getting hard to find body and suspension parts for it, but the Ford drive line helps keep it on the road cheaply and easily. Has an Edelbrock carburetor (650 AVS) that helps drivability and economy.

Now a rare car on the road in Auckland New Zealand, so it does get a lot of attention wherever it goes.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th January, 2011

1960 Sunbeam Rapier Two door 1.6 from UK and Ireland

Model year1960
Year of manufacture1960
First year of ownership2007
Most recent year of ownership2007
Engine and transmission 1.6 Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired110000 miles
Most recent distance115000 miles
Previous carHillman Minx


Will always be wanted, and any excuses are used to drive it continually


Blew the head gasket yesterday.

Suspension and steering parts worn.

Chrome bootlid ('U' shape) rusted.

Oil leaks on engine and gearbox.

General Comments:

A car of 47 years old that is still a head turner and a pleasure to drive, and will always look sporty.

12 km's to a litre with the twin zeniths (does not say much for modern technology?!)

Solid body with sleek lines.

Always makes friends wherever it goes.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 14th August, 2007

12th May 2009, 13:57

My Rapier series 3a convertible gives me immense pleasure driving it. I use it a lot on the Maltese horrendous roads and it has no bad vices. Very quick if pushed, and very economical if driven sensibly. Most of all, I love to park it alongside Mercs and BMWs, and see the young generation and old admire it's beautiful lines and curves, and totally ignoring the expensive disposable machinery next to it!

1976 Sunbeam Rapier Fastback 1.7 CC Overdrive from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1976
First year of ownership1982
Most recent year of ownership1985
Engine and transmission 1.7 CC Overdrive Don't Know
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.3 / 10
Distance when acquired40000 miles
Most recent distance80000 miles
Previous carVolkswagen Beetle


Sleek and comfortable


Petrol tank interior coated with some sort of paint that flaked off and blocked carb repeatedly. Had to remove the tank and steam spray the inside (very awkward job) which helped, but still had some problems later, I finally cured this by adding a large in-line fuel filter!

Engine earth came loose causing weird problems (read below)

Engine seized up for no apparent reason.

General Comments:

I bought this car for very little whilst in Germany, it was RHD and I exported it back to the UK when I came back to the UK, that's how much I liked it.

This was a great looking car, with swooping fastback rear and lots of room inside, also very comfortable. It was yellow a with a tan interior, lots of dials and made by Chrysler.

The 1725 CC OHV Routes engine had a high compression alloy head, Twin SU Carbs and plently of torque. The 4 speed plus overdrive transmission effectively gave the car 6 speeds. The cornering wasn't the best, as it understeered badly, but it wasn't made for cornering so it loved the Autobahns and later motorways.

The car was very reliable (apart from a couple of awkward issues) I spent little on it during ownership.

Having to unblock the fuel system every so often due to paint flakes, was about the worst thing I had to deal with, I'd have to blow down the fuel hose or go to a filling station and blow compressed air into the fuel system until I had the time to remove the tank.

I then had this odd problem of the car losing electrics, such as random cut-ots with no starter, I would poke about under the bonnet and it started again! I got other mechanics to look it over, but they couldn't figure. I was cleaning the carpet one day and noticed there was sparking under the accelerator pedal, this was rather alarming especially as there was no wiring anywhere near, I disconnected the battery and phoned a mechanic friend of mine, he said "Ohh! now I know why you've been having the problem with the starter, your engine earth must be bad, take the engine earth off and give the connectors a good clean." Sure enough this stopped the random cut-outs and stopped the sparks, which were due to the engine trying to earth down the accelator cable.

I was shocked when the engine seized up without any warning, it was not overheated or lacking oil or showing any sign of stress, it just came to a clattering halt one day. I sold it to an enthusiast who fixed it and loved the car.

I enjoyed this car until the engine seized, I suspected the head gasket had failed and blown water into the block, causing the sudden death! These Routes engines had a habit of blowing gaskets, just my luck it did it in this way, I would have kept this car longer otherwise!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th March, 2004

Average review marks: 7.9 / 10, based on 3 reviews